Cordelia’s Sacred Monkeys

A Roman Catholic traditional rite weblog has posted an article arguing, somewhat tongue in cheek, that Cordelia Flyte’s fanciful tutorial for Rex Mottram’s religious instruction in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited has, in part at least, come true. Among the beliefs she jokingly told Rex were held by Roman Catholics were, as he later naively recited them to his sponsors:

“that you have to sleep with your feet pointing East, because that’s the direction of Heaven, and if you die at night you can walk there…. And what about the Pope who made one of his horses a cardinal? And what about the box you keep in the church porch, and if you put in a pound note with someone’s name on it, they go to Hell.”

When the sponsors, Lady Marchmain and Fr. Mowbray, wondered where Rex had heard these things, Cordelia confessed:

“What a chump! … who would have dreamed he’d swallow it all. I told him such a lot besides … About sacred monkeys in the Vatican…”

These quotes come from the novel (Penguin, pp. 186-87). According to the weblog, Cordelia’s “prophesy” has now come true (if you can follow this reasoning):

On December 8, at the opening of Francis’ “Year of Mercy,” an ecological light show projected animals and endangered species onto the façade of St. Peter’s at the Vatican. Its goal was to display Francis’ Laudato Si in vivid imagery. Environmentalism effectively raises animals and all of nature to the realm of the ‘sacred,’ claiming that “everything is interconnected,” trees, mushrooms, worms, fish, apes, man, the divine. Once again, Evelyn Waugh is prophetic — sacred monkeys at the Vatican.

The article is supported by a photo from the light show.

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